Fashion for women over 40 and beyond - a huge wealthy consumer group and often ignored. 16 July 2015, 0 Comments

Yesterday I read a very interesting article by Anna Murphy the Fashion Director of the venerable Times newspaper in the UK.  It was not about the latest trends or fashion shows, what is on the catwalk or high street but actually about women over 50 who command more than $11trillion in assets.  It is a vast and wealthy consumer group that is often ignored or misunderstood.  Anna suggests that women in this demographic like to buy clothes which are comfortable yet still stylish and still in vogue.  Lengths, shapes and fabrics are important.  When I consider glamorous older women especially in Europe and the US I think understated elegance and chic, well cut trousers and jackets, long flowing skirts and dresses. Colour can also be abundant.  

Remember that Elle Macpherson is now 51, Liz Hurley 50, Christie Brinkley is 61, Kate Moss 41 and Heidi Klum is 42.  Sarah Jessica Parker turned 50 this year.  We would happily work with all of them. It is their style not age, that counts.

Christie Brinkley at 59

So why do I mention this?  Well as a lifestyle brand our core demographic is 25-45 though this does not mean that we do not market to women older than that - we do.  However, some styles will be more suitable than others.  My mother in law is a very elegant 59 and she can still wear a few styles from our current collection.  We do not and probably will never shoot super skinny teenage models, they just do not resonate with us a brand or with our customers.  Our sizing is European and Australian 8, 10, 12 and 14, the majority of women will be in the 12 and 14 size category not size 6 and 8.  We are interested in working with models who are mothers, we also have a girls wear brand and that leads us back to being a lifestyle brand.  Women are beautiful and graceful at all ages, just look at Helen Mirren who still wows us all at 69.  Our customers and fans can be any age, they will be drawn to our shapes and colours and use of lace and embroidery, comfortable but refined, chic and elegant.  Pieces which can be worn from day to night.   

By coincidence I also spent yesterday analysing the data on Facebook for different demographics and consumer spending behaviour across different age groups and state by state in the US.  The main reason for this article is that I was amazed at how powerful the 45-65 age group is within the facebook community. Here are some facts - in California (the largest US state) this age group has 2.2m people interested in online shopping, 920,000 interested in shopping in boutiques and 920,000 interested in women's clothing.  For this latter category this age group is double the size of the 35-45 group.  These trends are spread across all the states and all categories of fashion (except kids) and luxury goods.  No surprise that this group represents an affluent group with large disposable incomes and/or wealth.

I am not suggesting that designers go out and change their style to accommodate this age group just that women over 40 are still women who still want the same thing.  Comfort, elegance, a touch of luxury and above all style.  They want to look and feel good and marketers are missing out on this opportunity to include them and bring them into a brand's core audience.